By Oene Rusticus
AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, April 16. THE second day of the Dutch Nationals was Judgement Day for the Olympic medley relays. Both the men and women were still missing a backstroker. When the day was done only the women succeeded in their mission; none of the male swimmers managed to swim under 57 seconds.
Last year, the men finished fifth in Barcelona, but backstroker Klaas Erik Zwering turned to the freestyle after he couldn’t make enough progress on the backstroke. Sander Ganzevles and Mitja Zastrow battled for the title in this event, but their times weren’t enough to compete in international competition. Ganzevles finished first just ahead of Zastrow in 57.46 to 57.53.
Head coach of the Dutch National team André Cats was disappointed for the swimmers but didn’t make a final statement about this event yet.
The women’s team is complete, after Stefanie Luiken swam 1:03.25 for the 100 back. She approached the 20 year-old Dutch record by only 0.5 seconds.
The 50 freestyle was a high quality event for both men and women, but the spots in the Olympic team are already filled by Pieter van den Hoogenband, Johan Kenkhuis, Inge de Bruijn and Marleen Veldhuis, all finalists in this event in Barcelona. Hoogie and Inky skipped these Championships, leaving the titles to the others.
Kenkhuis got tough competition from Mark Veens, but in the second 25 he showed Veens his heels and finished in 22.43 to 22.74 for Veens. Veldhuis had to compete with teammate Chantal Groot and Annabel Kosten. Veldhuis showed her class by finishing first in 25.46, while Kosten just out-touched Groot, 25.68 to 25.79.
The 200 breaststroke showed a great race between 2003 National Champion Melanie ten Brink, Madelon Baans and junior Moniek Nijhuis. Baans is the fastest of the three in the 100 meter event and turned first halfway. Ten Brink gained in the last 50, but couldn’t beat Baans who finished first in 2:34.94. Ten Brink did pass Nijhuis in the race for second place (2:36.04 to 2:36.43).
In the men's race, Thijs van Valkengoed didn’t finish very well, but was far ahead of Martin de Wildt to grab the gold in 2:17.45. Robin van Aggele almost beat De Wildt, but the swimmer from PSV Eindhoven touched the pad in 2:18.42, just 0.19 ahead of Van Aggele.
The titles in the 400 freestyle went to Edith van Dijk (4:20.39) and Thomas Felten (3:57.74).